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Joshua Rozenberg interviews Lord Bingham on the Rule of Law

As part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law launch of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, Joshua Rozenberg, Member of the Bingham Centre Appeal Board, interviewed Lord Bingham. We invite you to view the interview. The official version will be available on from Thursday morning. A full transcript of the interview is also available.

The maintenance and promotion of the rule of law is of fundamental importance for the human dignity and economic well-being of people everywhere, providing the foundations for a functioning economy and a civilised society. Its relevance extends across a wide range in the affairs of people and states: in the laws of armed conflict, and in national security and terrorist situations; in laws outlawing corruption and governing constitutional affairs; the democratic process and the independence of the judiciary; in energy and environmental protection; privacy and other human rights; and in the respective roles and powers of the various arms of government and agencies at national and international levels.

As Lord Bingham said in his November 2008 Grotius Lecture at the Institute:
If the daunting challenges now facing the world are to be overcome, it must be through the medium of rules, internationally agreed, internationally implemented and, if necessary, internationally enforced. That is what the rule of law requires in the international order.

In turbulent times, just when it is most important, the rule of law can come under threat. The following are some of the many and varied challenges that are posed for the rule of law today:

  • Regulation of international trade and finance, to facilitate economic growth while protecting the economically vulnerable;
  • Preventing abuses of power, whether by governments, governmental agencies or private interests, both at national and international levels, often in circumstances where judicial or effective democratic control is limited;
  • Balancing of rights and religious beliefs;
  • Enforcing the Geneva Conventions, and preventing the use of genocide or rape as weapons of war;
  • Avoiding human rights abuses where there are national security claims, including in the context of the "war on terror"; and
  • Developing and maintaining, both within states and internationally, fair and responsible access to natural resources such as minerals, energy sources, and water resources, as well as the protection of the environment.

The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law will be dedicated to the promotion of the rule of law in all its international aspects and develop the work which has formed the foundation of Lord Bingham's judicial career. It will be the foremost institution of its kind in the world, specifically devoted to this important topic.

More information about the Bingham Centre

1. With strategic lead from Lord Bingham, the Bingham Centre would be the foremost institution in the world focused solely on developing the rule of law, understanding it and the challenges which it faces, providing an intellectual framework, within which it can operate, and creating the legal and policy tools to support it.

2. The aims of the Centre are to provide a centre of excellence for researching and refining these ideas, promoting the rule of law and the policies needed to implement and secure it. To do this it aims to:

  • Provide and facilitate training with the aim of enhancing the capability of institutions and courts to operate according to the rule of law;
  • Provide a place for original research, analysis and discussion of the rule of law issues of practical relevance to practitioners, judges, government, business, individuals, groups and organizations, across legal systems, including in developing states;
  • Organise high quality seminars, conferences and other events to enable those with expertise and experience in this area, to form an effective global network dealing with problems and developments in regard to the rule of law;
  • Provide financial support for the best interns and researchers from around the world to work with the Director of the Centre, practitioners and judges;
  • Hold an annual Bingham Lecture on the Rule of Law on a topic of current importance and present an Annual Rule of Law Award for outstanding contribution to the rule of law.

3. As a symbol of the support the British Institute of International and Comparative Law is hoping to attract from across the world, the Chief Justices of Australia and Hong Kong, the Presidents of the European Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice, and the former Irish EU Commissioner Sir Peter Sutherland, now Chairman of BP, have already accepted an invitation to join Lord Judge and Lord Phillips, amongst others, as patrons of the Bingham Appeal. The Appeal is seeking to raise a number of pace-setting gifts. In the months since it was announced at the end of 2008 the Bingham Appeal has already raised a substantial amount in donations and pledges.

This is an important project, supported at the highest levels of academia, the law, the judiciary, international organisations and business. However it has to be properly funded. Donations could be making a profound and prolonged contribution to the development of the world in which we live. If you would like to support the Bingham Centre or the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, please visit the Support Us page.

4. The Bingham Appeal is chaired by Sir Christopher Bellamy and its Vice-Chairman is Paul Lomas. It is proposed that sufficient funds will be raised over the course of 2009 to make our vision for the Centre a reality.

5. For further information, visit

For more information on the Centre, please contact:

Professor Robert McCorquodale Institute Director, email: or Orsi Deák at the Institute's Development Office, 020 78655151 or email

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